Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi has urged residents of Eastern Province to embrace irrigation farming as a custom, saying this was one sure way of mitigating the impact of drought.
Murekezi made the remarks Friday while launching two irrigation projects in the province.
The two schemes are Rwangingo-Karangazi Marshland irrigation project is in the districts of Gatsibo and Nyagatare, and Nyakagezi Hillside Irrigation Scheme in Gatsibo.
“The practice of irrigation has not yet been fully embraced in Rwanda yet it is very important especially in this region that has for years faced prolonged droughts,” he said.
The premier said time has come for people to stop depending on rains because “the country has enough water resources to keep the farms irrigated all year round.”
During a special Umuganda in Gatsibo, Murekezi pledged government support to ensure the effects of the drought are mitigated.
“The Government is committed to help those affected by drought and has put in place measures to fight against the crisis quickly and sustainably,” he said.
“The problem is drought and the solution is water. It’s time to use our waters properly. Do not just sit and watch as the water flows away,” he said.
Eastern Province governor Odette Mujawamariya said the projects will support agriculture during dry season.
The two projects were set up under the rural sector support project (RSSP) in the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
Nyakagezi Hillside Irrigation Scheme is supplied by ground water and surface water flows and will irrigate 45 hectares designed for horticulture at a cost of Rwf650 million.
During the Umuganda, seven hectares of land that is part of the scheme were cultivated.
Vegetables were planted and irrigated with water pumps, rain guns or watering cans.
Through the “Nkunganire” program, farmers pay 50 per cent of the price of the pump while the rest is paid by the Government.
The 4-kilometre water dam has a reservoir capacity of 3,750,000 cubic metres and will supply water to 925 hectares Rwangingo-Karangazi mashland that will be planted with rice and maize through a 29-kilometre irrigation canal.
The mashland’s 925 hectares are shared by Gatsibo which has 322 hectares of land and 603 in Nyagatare.
More than 300 hectares of marshland will be planted with rice in season C that starts in July
The 18 months project that started in November 2014 cost Rwf8.5 billion.
Murekezi and other government officials also visited different dams that
According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Rwanda is blessed with 6,800 billion cubic metres of water per year apart from the rain. Only 2 per cent of this water is used.
The government targets to increase irrigated land from 45,000 hectares to 100,000 hectares by 2020.